A Texas high school student received a $20,000 scholarship from Ellen DeGeneres after he was told that he wouldn't be able to attend his graduation unless he cut his dreadlocks.
The teen, DeAndre Arnold, refused to cut his locs and was suspended from Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, some 30 miles east of Houston. "They say that even though my hair is up and I follow all of the regulations, that if it was down, it would be out of dress code," the high school senior told NBC affiliate KPRC. "Not that I'm out of dress code, but if I was to take it down, I would be out of dress code, which doesn't make any sense. I don't take it down at school."
Ellen heard about the young man's plight and reached out. He was invited to appear on an episode of The Ellen Show that aired Wednesday, where he received the scholarship.
Ellen told the teen that she was here for him and that she didn't quite understand the situation. "You get good grades. You’ve never been in trouble, ever. This is the first time anything has come up. And now you haven’t been in school for weeks because of this situation,” DeGeneres said.
Arnold explained that he would generally be in dress code, wearing his hair up. "Every day I would go to school, I would always be in dress code. But the thing with them is, if it was let down, I would be out of dress code. And this issue really escalated about after Christmas break."
Ellen asked Arnold if there are any girls at his school, to which he responded affirmatively. "And do the girls have long hair?" the host asked. "There’s plenty of girls with long hair at my school,” the teen explained. "If girls can have long hair, why can’t I have long hair?"
Arnold was totally surprised when Alicia Keys came out to present him with a huge check for $20,000, to help him go to college and follow his dreams of becoming a veterinarian.
"I’m super proud of you for standing up for what you know is right. I know the school needs to do the right thing. Me and Ellen called our friends at Shutterfly because we know that you’re a special person," the singer said. "And we know you’re destined for such greatness and we wanted to support that greatness and invest in that greatness. So we wanted to present you with a check for $20,000."